Texas Rep. Escobar introduces bill to defund Trump’s policy forcing asylum-seekers to Mexico

Nearly two dozen House Democrats are supporting legislation that would defund the Trump administration’s policy of forcing asylum-seekers out of the U.S. to wait out their cases. Under “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or Remain in Mexico, nearly 3,700 asylum-seekers have been forcibly returned to Mexico to date, in what some advocates have described as a humanitarian and logistical nightmare.

“DHS promised, for example, not to return especially ‘vulnerable populations’ under MPP,” Vox reports. But Texas’ Veronica Escobar, the bill’s lead sponsor and a border representative, “says her office has received ‘example after example after example of violations of that policy.’ Returnees have included at least one trans woman, pregnant women, and children with medical issues.” 

Asylum-seekers have also been returned with no consideration about where they’ll even stay or how to follow up with them. In one instance, an immigration judge asked Homeland Security prosecutors how the court could serve returned asylum-seekers “if we do not have an address,” to which the prosecutor replied, “I don’t have the answer.” 

Yet a federal appeals court ruled last week that the Trump administration can continue the policy “on a temporary basis, while the court considers broader issues in the case.” House Democrats have the power to block this policy and allow vulnerable asylum-seekers to stay here, but the Republican-led Senate is another story. Escobar, however, believes she has a solution to that problem.

“[H]er primary concern is finding a way for an MPP-ending bill to pass not only the Democratic House but also the Senate—which she describes as a ‘legislative wasteland’—and the president’s desk,” Vox continues. “So she’s talking to appropriators and introducing a bill that can easily be appended as a policy rider to a must-pass budget bill.” Vox reports that “five of the nine members of Congress representing US-Mexico border districts have signed on to end the policy.”

“While we all acknowledge that we face significant challenges with the increasing number of migrants at our southern border, America’s response should never include cruelty,” Escobar said. “The Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy is yet another attempt to bend our immigration laws in order to block asylum seekers from accessing due process by sending them into dangerous conditions in another country to await their asylum hearing.”

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